Andreas Pereira Has Finally Arrived At Manchester United
The 22 year old Brazilian was one of Manchester United’s best players on the pitch against Leicester City on Friday.
The 2018/19 Premier League season finally got underway on Friday night as Manchester United beat a spirited Leicester City 2-1 at Old Trafford.
Paul Pogba, who returned from a successful World Cup campaign last Monday, scored an early penalty following a Daniel Amartey handball. A late goal by Luke Shaw sealed the win for United, before Jamie Vardy pulled one back for the Foxes in stoppage time.
After all the negativity that has surrounded Jose Mourinho and his team during pre-season, the Red Devils would have heaved a sigh of relief after starting their campaign with a win.
There were several positives to take away from the match. Pogba, who was also handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Valencia, put in a commanding performance in midfield, orchestrating the play and controlling the tempo of the match.
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were solid in defence, showing that United and Mourinho may not need the additional centre back that they have been craving for recently.
Luke Shaw scored the first senior goal of his career. Although he didn’t offer much else going forward, he was solid in defence, and Jose will be glad to have an extra option at left back.
But one man who toiled away in the shadows and deserves more credit is academy youngster Andreas Pereira.
Pereira excelled in his new found position at the base of United’s three man midfield. He was incisive and composed on the ball, and was the main reason why Pogba could operate on the left side with so much freedom.
He played the entire 90 minutes, making 3 tackles and 5 interceptions. He also had a very impressive 91.4% passing accuracy.
Ever since he was a teenager, Pereira had been pegged as a future first team star with lots of potential, but the last few years haven’t exactly gone according to plan for him.
In his years at the academy, Pereira was a versatile attacker who played his best football in a number 10 role behind the striker. Also capable of playing on the left or the right, he makes up for his diminutive build with pace and trickery.
His ball control is excellent, and has a direct style of attacking that can be a nightmare for defenders. He’s also a dead ball specialist (his first goal for the club was a free kick).
He made his first senior appearance for the Red Devils in the 2014/15 season, which turned out to be a 4-0 defeat in the League Cup to MK Dons, one of United’s most humiliating moments in recent history.
A league debut followed soon after, as he substituted Juan Mata in a 3-0 win against Spurs. He soon signed a new long term contract at the club, and was all set to break into the first team.
But the following season, he made only 4 league appearances. He netted a stunning free kick in a 3-0 League Cup win against Ipswich, but barely made an impact after that. The inevitable soon happened – he was sent out on loan to La Liga side Granada.
Pereira finally got a taste of top flight football at the Spanish club, where he spent a productive spell, making 35 appearances and scoring 5 goals.
Mourinho reportedly wished to keep him at Old Trafford during his first season at the club, but Pereira chose to go out on loan again, this time at Valencia.
The Los Che recovered from the disappointments of previous seasons to finish 4th in 2017/18, and although Pereira wasn’t as regular as he was at Granada, he did score a goal and made 23 appearances.
The 2018/19 season was probably going to be his last chance at the Theatre of Dreams. He will turn 23 next January, and pre-season gave him a chance to impress Mourinho, as several of United’s first team stars recuperated from a hectic World Cup.
And he didn’t disappoint. Pereira was easily their best player in an otherwise underwhelming tour of the United States. With Matic and Herrera recovering from injuries, he finally had the chance to make his mark in the Premier League.
While Matic was undoubtedly one of United’s best outfield players last season, Pereira offers Mourinho something different.
At 5’10”, he isn’t built for aerial duels, but Pereira displayed a keen understanding of the game against Leicester that allowed him to read the Foxes’ attacking moves, and stop them by intercepting through balls. But more importantly, his on-the-ball skills allow him to pick out passes from the back to start attacks.
After Pogba opened the scoring against Leicester, the Red Devils chose to sit back and protect the lead in typical Mourinho fashion. Whenever they countered, however, they always posed a threat, and this was in large part due to Pereira.
Its safe to assume that Jose is going to stick to his tried and tested tactics this season, and Pereira’s ability to transition from defence to attack in a matter of seconds might actually put him ahead of Matic and Herrera in the pecking order.
One thing’s for sure – with Matic still recovering from surgery, he’s going to get plenty of chances to make a mark. The next few weeks may make or break his career at Old Trafford, but the initial signs are very promising.
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